Equilibrium/Sustainability

Buttigieg says delay in climate action will cost lives amid reports of Manchin roadblock

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg warned on Sunday that a delay in climate action would cost livelihoods and lives amid reports that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) opposes a major climate program in the Democrats' spending bill.

Late last week, several news outlets reported that a major climate program, called the Clean Electricity Payment Program, was likely to be cut from Democrats' massive spending bill because Manchin opposed it.

Buttigieg was asked about those reports by CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union."

"The bottom line is, we have to act on climate for the good of our children and, by the way, for the good of our economy," Buttigieg said. "I view this as kind of like a planetary maintenance issue. The longer you take to do something about it, the more it's going to cost, in livelihoods, as well as lives. We need to act." 

The clean electricity program aims to meet a goal of reducing U.S. electricity production emissions by 80 percent before 2030. It would use fines and grants to incentivize private utility companies to adopt clean sources of energy. 

Manchin has voiced concerns over the reliability of the program and for paying private businesses to do something that the industry is leaning toward doing anyway.

"You supported a clean electricity standard during your campaign. How disappointed are you that this potentially will not be in the bill?" Tapper asked Buttigieg on Sunday.

"Look, the administration and the president are committed to bold climate action. Exactly what legislative form that takes is what's being negotiated right now," the transportation secretary answered. 

The remarks come as Democrats are seeking to figure out how to trim a reconciliation package that is currently priced at $3.5 trillion. Two moderates - Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) - have already expressed that they will not support its current figure, though Manchin has said he is open to a figure between $1.9 and $2.2 trillion. It is not clear what Sinema would support.

Democrats cannot afford any defections from their massive spending bill and are aiming to get that bill and a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill to President Biden's desk by the end of the month.

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